Siberian Rubythroat in the Rice Paddy

10 02 2016

A notable first ever record of a Siberian Rubythroat in the local rice paddy made yesterday evening’s after-work stretch all the more pleasant. There it was, perched atop a bush, its rich brown hues resplendent in the late evening sun, and my scanning eyes stopped on its rich red gorget. Bingo, I thought! Unmistakeable! I’ve got Ruby etched in my mind as a skulker but this one was far from it, out in the open giving off strong vocalisations and only really dipped down into the scrub when my movement finally registered. First one I’ve ever recorded here but not a surprise as I have records of them further west at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir.

The rice paddy throws up some interesting birds. At this time of the year there are plenty of Oriental Reed Warblers and some Black-browed Reed Warblers in the reeds that grow in and about the rice paddy’s irrigation canals. I am sure closer scrutiny would throw up more interesting species too. In recent weeks the bird that has given me the greatest pleasure apart from the rubythroat is Red-rumped Swallow. In the last few days I’ve picked out two on the basis of distinct whitish rumps in amongst the Asian Swifts and Barn Swallows.

A few weeks ago there was a Booted Eagle soaring high in the sky with a  handful of Black Kites. About this time we often get visits from Greater Spotted and Steppe Eagles too and a Peregrine is not uncommon either. I also expect to see Black-shouldered Kite every time I am out here and in fact this expectation made me miss a sparrowhawk species which flew over us. I would be reluctant to name it suffice to say it wasn’t a Black-shouldered Kite, which became very obvious when I looked up and failed to see the familiar diagonal black-and-white separation of the kite’s wing.

It is noteworthy that there are virtually no harriers present at this moment. I have one record of an Eastern Marsh Harrier from last week and that is it for the last few weeks. Perhaps there is no obvious food for harriers with the rice crop harvested and much of the paddy dry and cut down, or perhaps there are simply better offerings elsewhere. Who knows? However water is starting to be pumped into some areas ahead of tilling and replanting and this has brought in some waders, notably Black-winged Stilts but also a couple of Oriental Pratincoles. This should also bring in some Grey-headed Lapwing before they migrate northwards too. So potentially some excellent birding right on my doorstep over the next few weeks.